In the UK, back pain is one of the most common reasons people miss work, and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. With something so common, it has easy for people to get confused about back pain and misconceptions to arise!
We know that the easiest way to tackle back pain is to keep moving, but sometimes these myths and misconceptions can stop people from doing exercise or seeking proper treatment.
One of the most common myths about back pain is that people think it’s not going to happen to them. In fact 4 out of 5 of us will be affected by back pain at some point in our lives!
Top myths about back pain debunked:
MYTH – Exercise will cause or worsen back pain
Firstly staying bed bound with back pain can be one of the worst things you can do! Without exercise muscles become weakened, de-conditioned and stiff. To reduce back pain you should rest, calm the pain, followed by gentle exercise.
MYTH – If you see a spine specialist you will end up getting surgery
Spinal surgery is only recommended in about 1% of cases. In most cases the treatments recommended will be non-surgical, such as exercise, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication.
MYTH – Back pain is a normal part of ageing
Some people believe that back pain is a typical part of getting older but it shouldn’t be a normal part of your day. We all get aches and pains as we age, however with all the options to ease back pain available today you shouldn’t suffer in silence.
Common Myths About Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is one of the most common ailments affecting modern society. Many of us will suffer from an episode at some point in our lives, even if we’re at the peak of physical fitness. We all know someone who has been laid low by the dreaded back spasm.
Understanding more about what back pain is and what causes it, however, can help a lot in making sure you recover well and don’t get too stressed out by it in the process.
There’s So Much Pain It Must Be Serious
Back pain can be excruciating. Anyone who has felt the back ‘go’ and found themselves hooked over in agony will attest to that. We’re not saying that lower back pain is not serious in that sense.
When it first happens, it’s pretty easy to think that you’ve done something really terrible to your back. Will you ever walk again? Is it a fracture? A slipped disc? It might even be cancer!
The truth is that lower back pain in the vast majority of cases is not caused by anything serious and usually gets better over a period of weeks, months at the most. It’s normally described as mechanical or ‘non-specific’ and has no identifiable cause such as illness or infection or even major structural damage.
I’ve Got to Rest and Lie Flat
It’s tempting to lie down and, certainly in the initial stages of an acute attack, that’s often all that you can do.
Avoiding movement entirely is not good for a bad back. You will probably find that at some point the pain reduces and becomes more manageable and you should attempt to go about your daily life as normally as possible.
Gentle exercise like stretching, swimming or walking can also help once you are over that initial attack.
I’ve Had Back Pain for Years, There’s Nothing You Can Do
It’s just old age. I’ve had a problem with my back for years and have tried everything. There’s not much I can do but live with it. This is a more common attitude that you might think.
They’re pretty common explanations we hear at our chiropractic clinic every week. The fact that you’ve suffered from your back issue for many years, however, doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done.
A lot will depend on the cause of your back pain and how it is treated but your local chiropractor or osteopath will be able to assess and then advise you on the best approach.
Once You Have a Back Problem, It Will Recur
This is partly true. About 80% of us will suffer from a back problem at some point but only half of those will find that it recurs. If you want to reduce the risk of your back pain returning, there is actually a lot you can do.
That includes taking regular exercise and working on your core or stomach, improving your posture, especially at work, and eating a healthy diet.
You Need an X-Ray
Most back problems can be assessed without sending you to the hospital for an X-ray or any other test. When you visit our chiropractor clinic, you get a full assessment, including a review of your medical history, to find out what the problem is. There are some people that we send for further tests if we think it’s something other than a ‘normal’ lower back problem, but they are normally few and far between.
Our Top Tips for Managing Back Pain
If your back pain has not improved at all after a couple of weeks, it’s important to see your GP or visit your local chiropractor.
- You should try to stay as active as possible without causing your back more damage. This should aid the healing process and help you get over the back problem quicker. Consider taking pain killers if you are finding this difficult.
- Working out a simple and gentle exercise regime specifically to help your back is a very good idea. It not only helps you recover but also prevents the problem recurring. Try these simple exercises from the BackCare charity.
- Maintaining a healthy weight is also important. Excess fat or weight on the stomach tends to put a lot of pressure on the back and reducing this can make a big difference.
- Over the counter medication like Ibuprofen which is an anti-inflammatory can be used to manage pain if it is too intense.
- Putting hot and cold packs on the affected area should also improve blood flow, ease pain and encourage healing.
Chiropractors and osteopaths both use manipulation and manual therapy to help ease pain and improve lower back conditions. They will also be able to give you advice on how to manage a back condition for the future.
If you have a lower back problem and wish to consult a chiropractor, book an appointment today.
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